Test Translation

SLTI has translated or adapted hundreds of achievement tests into other languages. This base of experience and breadth of knowledge gives SLTI an advantage in dealing with the issues that may arise in any discussion of test translation. SLTI’s project managers are well versed in the procedures associated with large scale test-development projects, and there is a continual focus on developing and maintaining strict timetables for deliverables without compromising product quality. In addition, SLTI has a team of graphic artists on staff to handle desktop publishing in a variety of languages, including those that do not employ Roman script.

Project Planning

At the inception of a test translation project, SLTI personnel convene to discuss the work plan, milestones, and tentative schedule for completing the work. The translation manager contacts test translators with a long standing relationship with SLTI to perform the translations. Three translators are generally assigned to each content area; one lead translator for the content, and two reviewers to comment on the translations. The translators are not only experienced test translators, but they also have expertise in the subject matter of the test(s) they are translating. This specialization ensures that the translations faithfully render the intention of the original English items.

Translation and Review

Prior to initial translation, the lead translator conducts a translatability evaluation of the English materials, which involves a linguistic bias review to determine if there are any stimuli, stems, or options that cannot be readily translated into the target language. Each translator will also review the test for cultural bias in the content of items. The translator then drafts the initial translation.

In a manner similar to test development projects, SLTI ensures that the English and translated versions of the assessments are equivalent by using a two-tiered, iterative process of review and revision. Once the lead translator drafts the initial translation, the second translator conducts a review that focuses on the appropriateness of the register for the age level of the examinee, the accuracy of the translation, and whether the wording of anything can be improved to make it more accessible, while at the same time remaining faithful to the original document. During the internal review process, translations are checked to ensure that multiple-choice items follow appropriate item writing guidelines, and that formulaic expressions and content-related terminology are translated consistently throughout the document, across tests in the same language, and in accordance with any glossaries or terminology lists the client may utilize.

Following review, the lead translator, reviewer, and translation manager work together to implement all appropriate revisions and revise the translation. The revised translation is then sent to a second reviewer, who follows the same review process. At this point, very few suggestions and revisions are expected, and any revisions made after the second review serve to fine tune and polish the translated items. After the second review and revision stage, the translations are considered finalized, unless an external review is required.

External Review

Depending on the nature of the project, an external review sometimes is requested by the client. In these cases, the translations are sent to an independent, external review entity to provide an impartial review of the translated items. SLTI’s translation manager and translators carefully evaluate the comments sent by the external reviewer and adjudicate revisions as needed.

SLTI has worked with other review structures in the past, and we are happy to accommodate review procedures proposed by the client. For example, SLTI has conducted translation projects where external review was performed in committee with the client and external reviewers.


SLTI has performed translation and translation review projects involving a number of languages. We have developed resources and processes to accommodate work into most languages. A list of languages for which we have done projects is provided below:

Albanian Dari Kurdish-Kurmanji Russian
Amharic Egyptian Arabic Kurdish-Sorani Samoan
Armenian French Laotian Spanish
Azeri Greek Mandarin Tagalog
Baluchi Haitian Creole Marshallese Tausug
Cape Verdean Creole Hebrew Modern Standard Arabic Tongan
Cebuano Hindi Norwegian Turkish
Chavacano Ilokano Pashto Urdu
Chinese-simplified Japanese Persian Vietnamese
Chinese-traditional Khmer Portuguese-Brazilian Visayan
Chuukese Korean Portuguese-European Yemeni Arabic

Publishing Services

Translation-related projects often require specialized language knowledge and page layout skills. Although many of SLTI’s clients have in-house layout and desktop publishing capabilities, a client's desktop publishing specialists may not know or may have an inadequate knowledge of the language into which the test has been rendered. In such situations the client may prefer to have SLTI do layout for the target language test book or answer document based on pre-existing layout matrices.

SLTI has performed DTP services in languages as diverse as Arabic, Armenian, traditional Chinese, Filipino, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

We also produce audio and video versions of tests in non-English languages on CD-ROM or DVD.

SLTI has performed translation and typesetting services for examinations such as the New York State Education Department Regents Exams, the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, the Ohio Achievement Tests, the Hawaii state assessments, the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.